Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Email: More earthquakes (or as they call them, aftershocks)

Hi Everyone,

Here we are 18 days after the massive 8.8 earthquake that rocked our Chilean world.  Things have calmed down, but almost in an eerie way.  I say eerie because last week things were starting to feel normal and then BOOM, on Thursday we had 3 huge aftershocks....that each qualify for earthquakes in themselves.  It happened right as the Presidents were changing from Michelle Bachelet to Sebastián Piñera, around 11:40am--first a 6.9 grade quake in the Rancagua region of Chile (just an hour or so outside of Santiago).  Did I mention it lasted for 40 seconds?  I was at work, on the 3rd floor of our building.  Normally we don't feel tremors unless they are strong and let me tell you...we sure felt it!  The windows and walls were sounding and honestly it made me flash back to that terrible morning of Feb. 27th. Then just 15 minutes later another one struck--this time 6.7 grade in the same epicenter.  By this time I was already outside of my building with a few coworkers.  We had left as soon as the first quake was over.  Then 10 minutes later, a THIRD quake....this time "only" a grade 6.  Let me tell you how unnerving it is to be outside and feel the ground beneath you move.  The ground which you have been taught and experienced to be solid for all of your life, which suddenly turns into a liquid-like state.  Needless to say, I was not very calm on Thursday.  We all left work for our homes and I tried to relax as much as I could once I knew Christian didn't have to go back to work.  

From Friday on, things were looking up though.  The whole weekend I didn't feel any aftershocks.  One of my good friends got married and life was again starting to feel normal.  Then Sunday night at 8:43pm the whole country experienced a blackout that lasted from 1 hour 15 minutes in some areas, to over 3 hours in other places.  The blackout wasn't product of seismic activity, but is most likely a result of damages to the transmission system thanks to the first earthquake.  We were safe and thankfully there weren't any aftershocks during the time our power was out.  That was what I was most worried about.  Again, normality seems to creep back and then be thrown out of the window.  Which is why it is eerie again....I am waiting for the next big aftershock (read: another earthquake) they have predicted--it will be over a grade 7, most likely a grade 7.5 according to the experts.  They find it not normal that we haven't had one this big since the original quake because due to the 8.8 magnitude, we are due for something in the 7-grade range.  That worries me a bit (or a lot maybe).  Grade 7 is strong.  Since the Richter scale is exponential, a jump from one number to the next is a lot.  According to this site (and others I have seen), each order of magnitude release around 31.6 times more energy than the previous magnitude.  If you the recent example of comparing the Haiti (grade 7) and Chile quakes (grade 8.8), the Chile quake had 63 times as much ground movement and released 500 times more energy.  So going from our 6 grade aftershocks (or less, most have been in the 4s and 5s) to something in the 7 range is a lot of movement.

So here we are, two days into the work week.  Business in Santiago is back to normal.  Sometimes I even feel like people have forgotten there was a massive earthquake and people are still without homes.  But then I see Red Cross collection sites for food, blankets and other items or hear about another benefit being put on to raise money to help those in need.  Our municipality is also collecting items to send down south.  It makes me happy to know Christian and I aren't the only ones still worrying about those people.  It is kind of a catch-22 the whole thing: we have to continue to work and make sure the economy stays strong so that the country can help those people rebuild and recover.  But there is also a great need to get housing rebuilt before winter hits.  In fact, the government decided not to change our clocks this past weekend to allow for more hours of sunlight.  They delayed the change to April 3rd.  

I would like to take a moment to remind you that our picture sales fundraiser is still going on through Wednesday March 17th at midnight.  All profits are going to the Red Cross Chile and Un Techo Para Chile ("A Roof for Chile", which is similar to Habitat for Humanity).  We will be sending out the receipts of the donations made to these organizations after March 17th.  If you don't want a picture but still want to help out, there are several other organizations raising money:
Also, a BIG thanks to everyone who has donated either through sending funds to an organization or buying pictures from us!  We appreciate the support you have shown to Chile!

Tyffanie & Christian (& Dulcinea)


Disclaimer—La Chilengüita is a blog created upon my personal experiences and which expresses my personal opinion that in no way represents the views my employer, family or friends.